SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association) Benjamin Netanyahu vowed on Sunday to reject a proposed United Nations timetable for Israel to withdrawal from the occupied West Bank and effectively impose a diplomatic solution to its conflict with the Palestinians.
The Israeli prime minister spoke out as he prepared to travel to Rome to meet John Kerry, the US secretary of state, and Matteo Renzi, Italy’s prime minister, amid frenetic manoeuvering over planned UN resolutions that threaten to leave Israel diplomatically isolated.
“Until now we have successfully withstood and repelled these attacks and now we also stand against the possibility of a diplomatic assault, i.e. an attempt to compel us – by means of UN decisions – to withdraw to the 1967 lines within two years,” Mr Netanyahu said at the opening of Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting.
“This will lead to Islamic extremists to the suburbs of Tel Aviv and to the heart of Jerusalem. We will not allow this. We will strongly and responsibly rebuff this. Let there be no doubt, this will be rejected.”
The uncompromising language reflected growing Israeli alarm over two separate UN resolutions – one framed by the Palestinians with Jordanian support, the other put together by France – that could set a deadline for a peace settlement.
Israeli fears have been further raised by suggestions that Washington – its traditional ally – might deviate from its usual policy of using its security council veto to block such resolutions.
The Palestinian-Jordanian initiative envisages a November 2016 deadline for Israel to end its military occupation of the West Bank.
Saeb Erekat, the Palestinians’ chief peace negotiator, told foreign journalists last week that the resolution would be tabled before the end of this year and predicted that the United States would not veto it.
Mr Kerry – who on Sunday met Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, to discuss Syria and the crisis in Ukraine – is expected to meet Mr Erekat in London on Tuesday, along with Nabil Elaraby, the secretary-general of the Arab League.
Before that, he will meet Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, as well as Laurent Fabius and Frank-Walther Steinmeier, the French and German foreign minister, to discuss France’s proposal, which calls on the two sides to reach a permanent status agreement within 24 months.
Israel has denounced non-binding but highly symbolic parliamentary votes in Britain, France, Spain, Portugal and Ireland in favour of recognizing a Palestinian state.